A sinus infection is an inflammation of one or more of the paranasal sinuses. The frontal, maxillary, and ethmoid sinuses are most frequently involved in a primary acute bacterial sinusitis. However, any of the paranasal sinuses can become the site of infection from time to time.
The word “sinus” comes from Latin and means hollow or cavity. Each human being has four pairs of paranasal sinuses: two frontal, two maxillary, and two ethmoid.
These are air-filled chambers located outside the main volume of the brain on each side just above and behind the eyes, below and between the eyes, and behind the nose. These air-filled structures have no other known function but to humidify and filter inhaled air before it enters the nasal passages.
What causes a sinus infection?
The most common cause of a sinus infection is an infection in the nasal passages. The infection may come from bacteria in the environment, a virus, or occasionally a fungus. Infections can occur when the immune system is weakened by stress, a poor diet, or other factors.
These include: A bacterial infection can spread from the nose into the sinuses if these are not kept clean. A viral infection such as a cold may get better without causing a secondary infection. But bacteria can cause a sinus infection even if you have only a runny nose.
A sinus infection is more likely to occur when the nasal passages are inflamed and the sinuses do not drain properly. This can occur if you have a deviated septum, allergies, or have had a recent nasal or dental procedure.
How Are Sinus Infections Transmitted?
Generally, people get sinus infections because they have a cold or allergies. A cold or allergy blocks the nose and allows bacteria to grow in the back of the nose. If a person with a cold or allergies gets close enough to another person to share the bacteria in their nose, the other person can catch the infection. People with sinus infections might also accidentally transfer bacteria to other parts of their own bodies, like touching the infected area and then touching another part of the body. Sinus infections are usually caused by bacteria, but they can be caused by viruses, fungi, or other pathogens.
Types of Sinus Infections That Can Be Contagious
There are a few types of sinus infections that are contagious, but these are generally only contagious when a person has an active infection with symptoms like nasal discharge and pain. These include:
– Acute bacterial rhinosinusitis (ABRS): This is the most common type of sinus infection, caused by bacterial infections in the sinuses.
– Acute viral rhinosinusitis: This occurs when the cold and flu viruses enter the sinuses and cause an infection.
– Chronic rhinosinusitis: This can be viral or bacterial, but it lasts longer than normal sinus infections
– usually longer than 12 weeks.
– Colds: Colds are viral infections and can be extremely contagious, but the contagious period for colds is usually when the person has the first symptoms of a stuffed nose, sore throat, and a fever.
– Allergies: Allergies can cause sinus infections if they cause a blocked nose.
How to Tell If a Sinus Infection Is Contagious
If you are experiencing symptoms of a sinus infection, you should see a doctor. It can be hard to determine if a sinus infection is contagious because symptoms often overlap with other conditions, like the flu.
If you do have a sinus infection, you can transfer the infection to a friend or loved one if they get close enough to you to breathe in the bacteria, or if you touch your infected area and then touch other parts of your body without washing your hands.
Also, keep in mind that if you’re experiencing a secondary case, neither type of sinus infection will be contagious. However, a person might experience more than one type of sinus infection at the same time.
What happens if you let a sinus infection go untreated?
There are certain conditions that, if left untreated, can lead to graver consequences. Most of us know this instinctively, but when it comes to your health and the well-being of your body, it’s imperative that you take action right away. A sinus infection is one such condition; if left untreated, it can advance further and cause complications in the long run.
An untreated sinus infection will almost always get worse. The symptoms will worsen and last longer than they would have if you had sought treatment immediately after the first sign of a problem.
Furthermore, ignoring a sinus infection has been linked to more serious illnesses like chronic rhinosinusitis or even tumors in some cases. If you don’t treat a sinus infection right away, there will almost certainly be negative effects as a result.
Signs and symptoms of a sinus infection
– Temperature of 38 C (100.4 F) or above – Swollen, reddened eyes
– Post-nasal drip
– Feeling of fullness in the face
– Feeling of being unwell
– A feeling of fullness behind the eyes, as if someone is pressing on your eyes.
– Pain when chewing
Treatment of a Sinus Infection
– Antibiotics: Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria. They are recommended for the treatment of a bacterial sinus infection.
– Painkillers: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) may be used to reduce pain and fever.
– Decongestants: Medications such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) may be used to relieve nasal congestion.
– Humidifier: A humidifier is a device that adds moisture to the air in the room. It is recommended for people who have had a nasal or sinus surgery or who have a deviated septum.
– Cough syrup: Cough syrup with codeine is recommended if you have dry, tickling cough.
– Nasal irrigation: The process of using a saline solution to flush the sinuses is called nasal irrigation. It is one of the treatments suggested for patients with recurring sinus infections.
– Steroid sprays: Inhaling steroid sprays may also be used in patients with recurring sinus infections. It has been shown to help prevent recurrences.
– Antiviral drugs: They may be used to treat a viral infection such as a common cold.
Prevention of Sinus Infections
– Use a humidifier to keep the air moist in the rooms you spend a lot of time in.
– Avoid pollutants in the air.
– Use a HEPA filter in your air conditioner.
– Avoid dust mites by keeping your home clean and free of clutter.
– Use a face mask when you are around people who have a cold.
– Wash your hands frequently.
– Get enough rest and exercise regularly.
A sinus infection is a common condition that can be treated with antibiotics. You can prevent sinus infections by practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly and keeping your home clean. If you have symptoms of a sinus infection, you should see your doctor to get a diagnosis and be treated appropriately.